Do you find it difficult to clear your mind (sometimes even on your yoga mat)?
Are you running through your daily routine without ever stopping to be aware of what actually you’re doing (for example to enjoy the meal instead of checking social media on your smartphone)? Do you struggle to stop the chatter in your head, even when meditating?
These may be signs it’s time to slow down and learn how to cultivate more mindfulness.
According to Harvard’s Help Guide, mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment — and accepting it without judgment. It means actively paying attention to our feelings, surroundings, and sensations.
Practicing mindfulness is typically easier said than done. However, the benefits of cultivating more mindfulness make it well worth the effort. Not only does mindfulness lead to happiness and overall well being, but it is also known to boost our immune system, improve mental focus, enhance relationships and decrease stress!
Regular yoga practice is a fantastic way to begin to incorporate more mindfulness into your everyday life. With each breath and posture, you will likely find yourself becoming more aware of your actions — which in turn leads to experiencing the powerful calming and gratitude-inducing effects of intentional mindfulness.
What’s even better though is that yoga is not the only way to cultivate mindfulness. The key is to intentionally tune-in to our surroundings and feelings, which we can do at any point in time.
Here are a few additional ways to bring more mindfulness into our every day lives:
1. Get In Nature
Taking the time to immerse oneself in nature is one of the most fantastic ways to invite mindfulness into our lives. The key is to slow down and vividly observe your surroundings. Close your eyes and notice the sounds and smells of what’s around you. Feel the earth or water between your toes. Observe the details of what you see.
Experiencing Mother Nature is one of the easiest ways to quiet our minds and focus on the unparalleled beauty of the present moment. Whether it’s going for a walk beside your house or heading to your favorite outdoor location, spending a bit of time in nature will help you incorporate more mindfulness even when you’re stuck in the office or juggling a million tasks.
2. Create & Explore
When was the last time you allowed yourself to create something? And not because you had to come up with an idea or project, but simply because you wanted to? Creating and exploring through the arts is a powerful way to invite mindfulness into our lives.
The key is to let go of expectations or attachment to the results and simply allow yourself to express your thoughts and feelings.
What’s more, taking the time to create can directly improve our concentration, which in turn affects our ability to focus on the present moment without distractions and interruptions. And of course, it’s just plain fun!
3. Avoid Multitasking
In our society where “busyness” is the norm, it can be increasingly difficult to focus on one and only one task at a time. Our iPhones are “dinging,” alerting us of new emails or social media updates. We have twenty tabs open on our computer, which is, in turn, cluttering our mind and to-do list.
The thing is, multitasking doesn’t work nearly as effectively as focusing on one task at a time. After all, it’s why you should never use your phone and drive at the same time.
But when we start to focus on one task at a time, we begin to do that task more mindfully. Take your yoga. You don’t bring anything onto the mat that will not serve you during your practice. And when you leave, you are likely happier, more energized, and restored… ready to tackle anything life might throw your way.
When we approach all aspects of our life with this same focus and mindfulness, it becomes obvious the improved results.
4. Slow Down & Breathe
Finally, perhaps the easiest way to practice more mindfulness is to slow down and breathe. Stop racing around from place to place; instead, think and act mindfully about what it is you are doing right now. Then, begin to focus on the inhale and the exhale of the breath. Allow the exhale to wash away that which you do not need. Use the inhale to breathe in gratitude and joy for the present moment.
This is an especially potent practice when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Stop thinking about what you need or should be doing, and instead find gratitude in where you are and what you have right now. You’ll be amazed at the effect this little bit of mindfulness can have on your total mind-body-spirit well-being (not to mention your productivity.)
It’s not easy to cultivate mindfulness when we feel busy, stressed and overwhelmed; however, those are the times when we often need it the most. What’s more, no matter what, we can always find ways to cultivate more mindfulness — and thus live in more gratitude, joy, and health. Use these tips above to get started, and then continue to expand your mindfulness practice into other areas of your life.
Now, share your thoughts with our community: how do YOU cultivate mindfulness?